Couple loses family dog in mobile home fire

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Fire broke out in a mobile home on Eastwood Lane in Socorro, belonging to Ramon and Isela Garcia, last Wednesday morning. A crew of 13 firefighters were on the scene within six minutes, and were able to keep the blaze from spreading to surrounding homes, but when the fire was put out 30 minutes later, the interior of the mobile home and all of its contents were a total loss.

Ramon Garcia, known to many as “The Burrito Man,” woke up at about 6:45 a.m. to acrid smoke and the crackling sound of flames coming from the livingroom. His first thought, when he realized what was happening, was to get Isela outside to safety. As he brought her through the flames, her hair caught fire, but she wasn’t badly burned.

Holding a hose in the doorway, Ramon and a neighbor tried to go back in the house to rescue the family dog, a 7-year-old boxer named Buster.

“The flames were too high,” he said. “We couldn’t get in.”

Outside in the yard, Isela smashed a window, calling frantically for Buster, but he didn’t come.

Arriving in three fire engines and three rescue units, the firefighters took over the situation, knocking back the flames and keeping the fire contained inside the home. They found Buster.

“When they brought him out, he wasn’t burnt,” Ramon said, wiping a hand over his eyes quickly. “It was the smoke.”

“They laid him on a mattress, and his eyes were open,” Isela said, tears flowing freely down her face.

She laid down with Buster on the mattress and held him as he died.

The Garcia’s have lost everything, but the loss of their family pet and best companion is what hurts the most.

The Garcia’s insurance company cancelled the policy on their mobile home as soon as they got it paid off, and the couple has been unable to reinsure it, although they’ve talked to several insurance companies. Ramon said he knows of other mobile home owners in the same fix.

“I guess they don’t want to insure the older homes, unless you owe the banks some money,” he said.

Ramon is disabled, Isela is not in the best of health and all their prescription medications were destroyed in the fire. As bad as things are for the Garcias, though, they could be worse.

Dr. Ravi and Addy Bhasker came to their aid immediately, putting them up in the Best Western hotel while they regained their bearings. The Red Cross was able to get their medications replaced immediately. And Tuesday, Jan. 31, they were able to move, at least temporarily, into another home in the same park.

John Chester, who owns the land and about half the mobile homes on it, said he had an empty trailer that he had been planning to refurbish over the course of the next few months. He said he spent the weekend working double-time to get it ready for the Garcias to be able to move in, and was willing to offer them reduced rent while they get back on their feet.

A-1 Quality helped too, Ramon said, bringing a truck to haul away the charred and sodden remains of their furniture and all the rest of their ruined belongings.

“We’re grateful to everyone for their help,” Ramon said.

Fire Chief Joe Gonzales said the cause of the fire was electrical, sparked by an extension cord.

“It could have been hot, could have been worn, we’re not really sure,” Gonzales said. “Extension cords are a real no-no, they can be a real fire hazard. If people choose to use extension cords, they should check to make sure they’re not frayed or worn, that they’re in good condition.”

 


-- Email the author at sbarteau@dchieftain.com.